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Positive Word of Mouth has a Bigger Impact Than Negative

Posted by Kristen Garvey on Fri, Dec 03, 2010

I am a “glass is always half full” kind of person, but for years we’ve been told that on average, consumers share a negative experience with 10-20 people while customers who have a good experience may only tell 2-5 people (the bad has a bigger impact than the good). That’s why I was excited to see a that a recent eMarketer article, “Consumers Believe in Positive Word-of-Mouth” shows that could all be changing- for the better.Positive WOM outweighs the bad

The article shared findings from a Keller Fay study, showing in general that we as consumers are talking about more of the good than the bad these days, but even more importantly the study shows that the effect of the good, or positive word of mouth outweighs the impact of negative word of mouth. This is especially true when it comes to the impact on purchase. Positive word of mouth impacts a consumers likelihood to purchase by 61% while negative word of mouth, only 16%.

Of course some industries have it easier than others; healthcare, financial services and telecom have a tougher time generating the positive word of mouth than other industries like food and dining and household products. But all in all the positive experiences seem to be talked about more and have a bigger impact.  And in a world where brands have less and less control over their messaging and consumers are having more of a voice- this isn’t good news, it’s GREAT news.

One reason for the shift- social media makes it easy to share, and sharing the good makes us feel good, and probably says something about who we are to the people who follow us. Just one click and you can tweet, post to Facebook etc. something positive that may help your friends, fans, and followers as well as the business you are touting.

I keep seeing articles, tweets and blog posts about 2011 marketing trends and they are all about content generation. The reality is just as we as marketers are generating more and more content, so are consumers! They are generating their own content and their own thought leadership status. Yes 2011 will be all about content generation, but more importantly it will be about engaging and embracing the consumer perspective. Hopefully we can go into 2011 with the confidence that the impact of the good will almost always outweigh the bad. At least that’s my glass half full perspective.

For more info on the impact of Social Sharing and engaging consumers take a look at our recent reports and research.


Posted by Kristen Garvey. Kristen is CMB's Director of Communications, a mother of two, looks for the good in everything and everyone and if she has a hard time finding it she takes another step back for a better view and looks harder.

Topics: marketing strategy, social media, customer experience and loyalty